Distinguished Services of Janakaraliya
From the very inception the fundamental objective and major role of Janakaraliya Cultural Foundation has been conducting island wide campaigns and projects for social integration and conflict resolution using activities related to theatre arts as tools. Janakaraliya has been assiduously working towards these goals for the past 12 years.
Janakaraliya Cultural Foundation is a concept of prominent drama, cinema and television artist Parakrama Niriella supported by late renowned dramatist late H. A. Perera. The foundation has also actively engaged in imparting knowledge on human rights, child abuse, gender issues and problems and also impediments faced by marginalized communities of the country.
The other important activities carried out by Janakaraliya Cultural Foundation using multiple art and communication mediums such as drama, television and radio for conducting programmes to attract youth for vocational and technical education and motivating rural entrepreneurs.
Consequently Janakaraliya Cultural Foundation is recognized as an experienced and skilled organization capable of changing attitudes of the society using multiple methodologies.
While engaged in these social development activities Janakaraliya is constantly committed to develop and enhance Sri Lankan drama and theatre art.
Janakaraliya Cultural Foundation employ following methodologies for social integration and conflict resolution. As results, achievements for the Foundation as well as the country in these fields are as follows;
(01) The Mobile Theatre Tent created by Janakaraliya – In the accepted tradition in ‘staging’ dramas in Sri Lanka, drama troupes travel to locations where fixed theatre halls are available for performance and ‘stage’ their dramas. A drama troupe that travelled beyond those facilities in the cities, carrying a theatre hall and performing in a mobile theatre hall was never heard in Sri Lanka before. After numerous efforts and setbacks, Janakaraliya Cultural Foundation introduced first ever Mobile Theatre tent in Sri Lanka.
While travelling across the country from district to district and village to village the attractive features of the Mobile theatre draw large number of people to watch dramas in this novel drama space. They watch dramas from all four sides rather than watching them from one side of the established proscenium stage. 500 adults or 800 school children could be seated in the large mobile theatre. After watching the dramas the audiences are provided the opportunities to participate in dialogs and discussions about the drama they watched or on various subjects. Once the Mobile Theatre is assembled in a selected location drama festivals commence for the schools’ communities and the general public. The activities conducted by Janakaraliya group sets up positive propagation throughout the City and the suburbs making it easier to conduct the desired awareness or educational campaigns.
In addition to performing dramas the Mobile Theatre is used to conduct various artistic programmes, films shows and conferences. A space is created where people of all ethnicities, religions are gathered without any communal, cast or religious biases. Once the mobile theatre is established in a location the foremost task is conducting drama festivals for the people in the area including the schools communities. The usual large gathering facilitates Janakaraliya Cultural Foundation to conduct educational and socio awareness programmes for the school children as well as the people of the area.
(02) Multi ethnic Theatre Group – Janakaraliya Cultural Foundation has established the first ever multi ethnic drama group in Sri Lanka. The group has 12 years of experience as Performance Theatre and Applied/Forum Theatre practitioners. Since the drama group that consists of both Sinhala and Tamil youth has been working as a unit for 12 long years they are capable of performing dramas in both national languages, Sinhala and Tamil equally well. As a result Janakaraliya Cultural Foundation becomes a True Peoples Theatre where Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities could watch dramas and participate in artistic and other programmes together. Janakaraliya Cultural Foundation is capable of performing dramas and conducts other programmes using Performance theatre on different subjects in both Sinhala and Tamil languages.
(03) Janakaraliya Educational Programmes - As Janakaraliya Cultural Foundation has become an Associate Member of International Theatre Institute (ITI) affiliated to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) it is capable of conducting educational programmes for the schools’ communities with the approval of the Ministry of Education and with the assistance of Provincial Educational Directors. While training and practicing schools’ communities on theatre arts and aesthetic education through attractive methodologies such as workshops and participatory programmes Janakaraliya Cultural Foundation has been imparting knowledge on them about social integration for the past 12 years continuously. Conducting workshops for school teachers on ‘Theatre for Education’ has been one of the foremost programmes in schools activities conducted by Janakaraliya Cultural Foundation programmes.
Some of the other important educational programmes conducted by the Foundation for urban and rural school leavers, women and adults using Performance, Forum/Applied theatre formats and dialog sessions. During the past 12 years the Foundation has such programmes and propaganda aimed at minimizing problems related to drug addiction, violence against women, domestic conflicts, women’s rights, minor age marriages and school drop outs.
(4) Programmes to appreciate diversity – One of the attractive features of Janakaraliya Cultural Foundation was creating a common space for the different communities living in specific regions to appreciate each other’s culture through drama, music, folk dances and cinema collectively. School children from different communities are afforded chances to watch Janakaraliya dramas and participate in educational programmes and thereby getting opportunities to write poems and short stories, draw arts etc on what they saw and conduct appreciation programmes as capacity building methodologies.
(05) Resources of Janakaraliya Cultural Foundation – Janakaraliya Cultural Foundation has acquired a block of land with a building in Homagama, close to Colombo, which is used as a hostel and a training centre. In addition a Janakaraliya enthusiast has donated one and a half acres of land with two buildings in a beautiful location near Anuradhapura town, in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. At present this location is maintained as the coordinating centre for North-Western, North East and North Central provinces by Janakaraliya Cultural Foundation. 30 people can be accommodated at the centre. A performing space has been constructed within the premises. We have planned to build a community theatre hall on this land.
In addition to the above mentioned immovable assets Janakaraliya Cultural Foundation owns the main mobile Theatre and two smaller versions of mobile theatres, 4 sets of lighting equipment, 2 no’s 40 ampere Electric Generators, sound equipments and two vehicles.
(06) Extremely skilled, highly experienced and a professional group – There are 10 members who are thoroughly committed from its inception bearing responsibility of this multi-ethnic Janakaraliya Drama group. They have become co-partners by being responsible for maintenance of Janakaraliya Cultural Foundation in all its functions such as, finance control, planning, advertising, productions, organising performance and ancillary tasks in the Art field (Choreography and set design etc) lighting and sound effects, whilst getting involved in Performance Theatre and Applied/Forum Theatre too. This multi ethnic theatre group was well trained on "Forum Theatre" methodology under visiting Theatre specialists of the Applied Theatre Department of the Manchester University of UK. Four of the senior members were given advanced training on the same methodology from "Janasanskriti" of Kolkata, the South Asian Centre for the "Theatre of the Oppressed" International Forum Theatre Chain.
These members have been adjudged as ‘Best Directors, Best Writers, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Actress, Best Stage Manager, Best Choreographer, Best Makeup artist, Best Stage Lighting, Best Costume Designer etc at State Drama Festivals and Youth Drama Festivals.